Drivers of Water Use in the Agricultural Sector of the European Union 27

Maria Gerveni, Andre Avelino, Sandy Dall'erba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus Citations


Population growth and the uncertain hazards that accompany climate change have put increasing pressure on the management and sustainability of water. It has a direct impact on agriculture and its domestic and international supply chain linkages. As one of the largest agricultural producers in the world, the European Union (EU) is particularly sensitive to changes in water availability. Therefore, we perform a structural decomposition analysis based on the recently released EXIOBASE 3 database to examine in depth how changes in water input coefficients, in final demand and in technology have affected changes in water use across crops. Crop production consumes 99% of the direct water in agriculture. Our results show that the largest EU crop producers have experienced an increase in water use that is mostly driven by changes in technology. On the other hand, several Mediterranean countries, where water scarcity has been a problem for years, have decreased their water consumption mostly thanks to an improvement in their water intensity. Results by crop are consistent with those at the aggregated level except for vegetables of which water use changes have been primarily driven by changes in final demand and water intensity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)9191-9199
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - 4 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-77543


  • agriculture
  • European Union
  • water use


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